Oil railway transportation may be spreading crop-killing weeds in ND

Photo Courtesy: Caleb Slemmons

WILLISTON, N.D. - Agriculture is North Dakota's leading industry in terms of revenue. The Ag Department has an ongoing problem with crop production being hindered by weeds, costing the state and consumers.

Evidence shows that oil being transported throughout North Dakota via railways has brought in a weed called the Narrowleaf Hawksbeard.

This is an aggressive weed that can overwinter and sprout up before the crops are planted, and outcompete crops for nutrients and moisture. The seeds are carried by railcars and spread across the farmland.

Agriculture agents say this problem directly affects local consumers.

Lucas Holmes Williams County Agriculture and Natural Resources Agent: "If the demand is still pretty high, it might increase the price, so if anything us consumers will feel it that way, or a certain product just won't be available," said Williams County ANR agent Lucas Holmes.

The Ag Department says farmers should spray these weeds in the spring, but they would like for it to be the responsibility of the railroad company to spray weeds around the railways and take steps to prevent the seeds from spreading even further.